It’s not enough anymore to just throw content out there and expect it to generate Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs). Instead, prospects must be nurtured throughout the entire sales process, from the minute they start browsing your website to the second that that they make a purchase.
Lead nurturing, the process of establishing and maintaining relationships with prospects through every step of the buyer’s journey, can significantly increase sales. Not convinced? According to research by Forrester, nurtured leads have been shown to boost sales opportunities by an average of 20%. Furthermore, companies that do this exceptionally well increase their sales leads by 50%—at a 33% lower cost.
What’s even more shocking? According to a study by Marketing Sherpa, only a pitiful 36% of marketers nurture their leads. In order to ensure that you do not fall under that category, we’ve compiled a list of four of the most important lead nurturing techniques.
1. Targeted Content to the Right People at the Right Time
Firstly, you need to understand all of your different buyer personas to make sure that your message is being delivered to the right people.
From there, instead of barraging all of your buyer personas with the same information, be sure to filter through content to ensure that it is relevant to the persona in which it’s directed. Allowing your leads to fill out a brief form on your website is one way of filtering through your leads and determining the content that might be relevant to them.
And last…but certainly not least: They say that timing is everything. When it comes to lead nurturing, this cliché rings very true.
Leads should be contacted immediately following a website conversion. You wouldn’t think that waiting even just 30 minutes would cost you a lead. But a study performed by Lead Response Management found that there is a very short window in which leads can be contacted before they go from warm to cold. The study found that the chances of generating a successful lead (or MQL) are a whopping 21 times greater when contact occurs within five minutes of lead submission, as opposed to 30 minutes.
Paying attention to where your leads are in the process is also a vital part of the lead nurturing process. In the awareness stage (as your leads are garnering information from you), e-books, blog posts and the like are effective tools that can be used to nurture leads. Leads in the consideration stage, on the other hand, will be searching for more detailed information—so things like expert guides, videos and podcasts will be most effective. Finally, in the decision stage, you will want to inform your lead about the value of your product or service. Some ways of doing this are via vendor comparisons, case studies and trial downloads.
2. Utilize Lead Scoring
Lead scoring is a methodology that uses a scale to rank leads based on their perceived value. You can then prioritize the leads that you have to determine where (or to whom) most of your efforts should be directed.
First, you can ascertain if the lead fits your buyer persona and is worth pursuing. From there, examine the user activity. Are they browsing the career page of your website? Chances are, they are probably not an MQL and you can rank them accordingly (give them negative points for this). Perhaps they are perusing your blog, in which case you can assume they are in the awareness stage (give them a few points). Or maybe you see some leads viewing the pricing page of your website, which tells you that these are highly qualified leads looking to purchase (subsequently, give them many points).
3. Communicate With Your Sales Team
For lead nurturing to be successful, team communication is essential. Establishing a Sales and Marketing Service Level Agreement (SLA) can help to outline the steps that must be taken throughout the lead nurturing process. Figure out at what points the sales team should step in and nurture the prospects. If your lead listened to a podcast, the sales team could then contact them to ask how useful or interesting they found it to be and maybe provide them with other pertinent content.
However or whenever your sales team contacts the prospect, the important thing to remember is to focus on relationship-building and providing the lead with educational, useful content—not hard selling.
4. Maximize Your Touches
Touches are defined as the methods of direct contact from business to consumer, whether that be a phone call, an email or an in-person conversation. The jury is still out on this one, in regards to how many touches are needed to generate an MQL. As Hubspot mentions, five is a good number to go by, but this number will most definitely fluctuate depending on your buyer persona and industry.
Start with a number that you think would be most effective and from there, test away. Determine not only the number of necessary touches, but also the type of touches that are best received and the time of day and week that your messaging is most effective.
At the end of the day, lead nurturing essentially revolves around one thing: building and sustaining relationships (okay, technically that’s two).
Moreover, if you can deliver timely, personalized content to the right audience, implement a lead scoring system, create a SLA with your sales team, and increase your touches, you will be well on your way to a lead nurturing grand slam.